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Recent high-profile deaths renew emphasis on suicide prevention in Black community

“Suicide is not to get attention”
Black boys specifically are at a greater risk for committing suicide without a plan than all...
Black boys specifically are at a greater risk for committing suicide without a plan than all other genders and races, a study shows.(WMC)
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 11:19 PM CST
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(KSLA) — On the heels of national news about multiple suicides in the Black community, medical providers and community leaders are speaking out about the importance of suicide prevention and seeking help when needed.

The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that suicide attempts, thoughts and plans are more prevalent now than in the 1990s.

FOR HELP

👩🏽‍⚕️ If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, trauma or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a health care provider.

📞 The telephone number for the toll-free, national suicide prevention hotline is (800) 273-8255.

Dr. Rosaline Darty, a nurse practitioner with David Raines Community Health Centers, explained that suicide often is not a plea for attention.

“People don’t like talking about anyone that would commit suicide because they don’t understand why that could happen, but it happens because they feel so isolated and they think that there’s no way out. Suicide is not to get attention.”

Black boys specifically, the study by NYRBS discovered, were at a greater risk for committing suicide without a plan than all other genders and races.

“Sixty percent of African Americans believe that if you have a mental health illness, then that’s a sign of personal weakness,” Dr. Darty explained. “So we really need to break down those barriers.”

With her patients, Dr. Darty said, she often recognizes trauma manifesting itself in physical symptoms.

“A kid may not say ‘I’m sad,’ they may say ‘my stomach hurts.’ So you need to get down to the bottom of those things that they’re talking about. Talk to them, get to know your child.”

Traumatic or adverse childhood experiences, as she calls them, often leave a lasting impact.

Dr. Rosaline Darty, a nurse practitioner with David Raines Community Health Centers, talks with...
Dr. Rosaline Darty, a nurse practitioner with David Raines Community Health Centers, talks with KSLA News 12's Alexandria Savage about suicide prevention in the Black community.(Source: Alexandria Savage/KSLA News 12)

Military veteran and trauma survivor Candy Green Brown shared with KSLA News 12 about how childhood trauma still affects her.

“Things I had endured as a child, the trauma I had experienced up to that point, you know, going to counseling helped me deal with those things. Black people, we don’t go to counseling. It’s not something we grew up doing or even saw our parents do. Our parents just took care of what they had to do.”

Brown said coping with her own trauma helped her be there for other family members “What I did not want was for my child to go through what I was going through. So I had to get help so that I could help her.”

Historically, churches have been a pillar of the Black community, a place many turn to during hard times.

Pastor Timothy Jones, of Peaceful Rest Missionary Baptist, explained that seeking out additional help is necessary at times. “Seek out the help that you need. My job is to offer a spiritual, the spiritual support that is needed.”

The lessons learned in church often come back, he shared. “Life happens, and sometimes life hurts. And life has a way of bringing that Sunday school lesson from age seven to a point of meaning for children.”

David Raines Community Health Center is a federally qualified health center, which means its facilities are placed in lower-income communities in many cases, making them more accessible.

“We take insurance, but we see a lot of patients that have, that are low-income, so we are able to recognize it in these communities because we see more of it,” Dr. Darty said.

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